Archive for August, 2007

Making an idea work

I’ll admit it, I haven’t been following through on all of my ideas, I haven’t been fulfilling my grand visions. I’d have a great idea, partially follow it, create something that conveyed a simple message and conveyed possibilities but never fulfilled those possibilities. It would be a working prototype, a proof of concept but sometimes it wouldn’t be something real that people could use.

About a month or two ago I reflected on all of these great ideas that were half completed projects. What was the problem?

I saw two reasons as to why they didn’t go ahead:

  1. Some ideas seem great in the beginning but on further investigation or through changes in the environment they just aren’t going to be profitable or beneficial. For example, about a year and a half ago I had an idea to create a social network where party goers and clubbers could invite each other out, review clubs etc. After exploring the idea it became apparent that the sort of thing I wanted to create was valuable, but was better off as a feature of an existing social network. In this case it was a good call to discontinue the project, even though I had put time into it, because Facebook now has something similar.
  2. I was setting my goals to far away, I was trying to add every feature and every idea that I came up with, I was trying to create a product with the complexity of Windows XP when I should have been focused on delivering DOS. I was getting in there and doing work. I just needed to do more effective, focused work by setting shorter term goals.

The first reason is all part of the ideas game. Some ideas look good others don’t.

The second reason is the reason why some of my great ideas were sitting there half completed. I was setting goals that were too big, hairy and audacious. I needed to set shorter more achievable goals that led up to the overall goal so that I would work harder, more often and produce something usable.

I took a step back about a month ago and re-evaluated the projects I had in front of me with in light of this new insight. I looked at Don’t Tell, my web startup that will launch as a beta this week, and a new project I was just starting for Object Consulting.

Don’t Tell has been going on for a while and it just didn’t feel like I was getting any nearer releasing that first beta for people to use and enjoy. “Just DO IT, and stop your complaining” as Terra Andersen says in this post only seemed to take my problem half way in that, I was doing but I wasn’t doing as much as I’d like because I wasn’t seeing the progress I wanted. I wasn’t seeing the progress I wanted because, in the fluffy world of unreleased ideas, it’s hard to find a way to keep yourself motivated.

My motivation came by cutting back all the non-necessary features, the “nice to haves”, and by coming up with a short term goal that I could reach that led on to the long term goal. Getting things done isn’t about what you can do, its about what you decide not to do. I’ve applied this same approach with one of my mentors on the project for Object Consulting and we’re also going to be releasing the beta version of that thisweek.

Do you have similar experiences in reaching your goals and completing your projects?


Thanking your mentors and peers

Last night at my companies “End of Financial Year Celebrations” I was talking to someone who I consider to be one of my mentors, a member of my mastermind group. A few drinks had been consumed so we were talking dreams, aspirations and how much we enjoy working for Object Consulting.

We were talking about how great the people are and I started telling her just how much a few individuals really had helped me. Through advice, war stories, working through a problem of mine, explaining something that others would deem ‘over my head’, or in the best case involving me in a business startup outside of Object I couldn’t describe in words how helpful they had been. I thanked her for being one of those people.

“I want to thank everyone of these people but I don’t know how. I can’t really just go and say thank you, should I get them a few beers or some wine?” I asked. I really wasn’t sure about how to thank these people.

“You should just go and say thank you. They’d really like that.” My mentor replied. Her infinite wisdom in dealing with people made me reconsider the way I viewed thanking.

So I went and said thank you.

It was the best thing I’ve done in a while, I felt better, I’m sure they felt better. I’d gotten caught up in thinking I needed to buy something, but I didn’t. I just needed to say thank you.

How do you say thank you?

Scott Middleton
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August 2007
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